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2018 Breeders’ Cup Need-to-Know Guide & Fields Preview

With fourteen championship races to contest, the Breeders’ Cup is arguably the most exciting weekend in North American horse racing. We’ve got the scoop — plus all the links where you can follow our exclusive coverage on the scene!

Horses enter the track for morning works in preparation for Breeders’ Cup races at Churchill Downs on November 1, 2018 in Louisville, Kentucky. Carolyn Simancik/Eclipse Sportswire/CSM

We’re less than 24 hours away from the first Breeders’ Cup race — the first of 14 championships to be held at the iconic, historic Churchill Downs of Louisville, Kentucky! Every individual race includes its own drama, unique stories and scores to be settled as rivals face off on the ultimate stage.

The Breeders’ Cup Classic is the headlining event, and will be run on Saturday evening. This year’s race is a bit of a wild card, with no clear outstanding superstar or rivalry taking center stage. It will be anyone’s race, and it’s bound to be an exciting finish to a great weekend of racing.

Here’s the info you need to know, plus a quick rundown of each race. HN’s Kristen Kovatch will be attending the Breeders’ Cup Championships and covering the races: keep it locked on Horse Nation’s Instagram and Twitter for plenty of trackside coverage, and of course bookmark HorseNation.com for recaps and reflections!

Who: 163 of the best Thoroughbreds in racing from all over the world over a variety of surfaces and distances. Entries qualify through Breeders’ Cup Challenge races as well a points system based on major graded stakes.

What: A two-day festival consisting of 14 races, awarding $30 million in purses

When: Opening ceremonies for Friday kick off at 2:45 PM EDT; first Breeders’ Cup post is 3:21 PM ET. Saturday’s opening ceremonies take place at 11:30 AM ET with first Breeders’ Cup post at noon. The Classic goes off at 5:44 PM EDT.

Where: Churchill Downs, Louisville, Kentucky

How to watch: A full schedule with all coverage can be found here. NBC Sports Network covers all of the races on Friday and Saturday; the Saturday’s races will be broadcast by NBC starting at 3 PM EDT. BreedersCup.com will be live streaming the entire card for free; download the Breeders’ Cup app which will also live stream races.

Field previews:

A new format this year has all of the juvenile races taking place on Friday, now referred to as “Future Stars Friday.” All races for three-year-olds and up take place on Saturday.

Friday races:

Juvenile Turf Sprint

  • Post: 3:21 PM EDT
  • $1,000,000 purse
  • 5 1/2 furlongs over turf for two-year-olds
  • Inaugural running in 2018
  • 2018 favorite: Strike Silver
  • Kristen’s pick: Shang Shang Shang (undefeated filly running against the boys — gotta give her credit!)

Juvenile Fillies Turf

  • Post: 4:00 PM EDT
  • $1,000,000 purse
  • 1 mile over turf for two-year-old fillies
  • 2017 champion: Rushing Fall
  • 2018 favorite: Newspaperofrecord (IRE)
  • Kristen’s pick: Belle Laura (for trainer Norm Casse and jockey Julien Leparoux)

Tito’s Handmade Vodka Juvenile Fillies

  • Post: 4:40 PM EDT
  • $2,000,000 purse
  • 1 1/16 miles over dirt for two-year-old fillies
  • 2017 champion: Caledonia Road
  • 2018 favorite: Bellafina
  • Kristen’s pick: Jaywalk (I like her experience level)

Juvenile Turf

  • Post: 5:22 PM EDT
  • $1,000,000 purse
  • 1 mile over turf for two-year-old for colts and geldings
  • 2017: Mendelssohn
  • 2018 favorite: Anthony Van Dyck (IRE)
  • Kristen’s pick: Current (I like Curlin as a sire… and have you seen that hair?)

Sentient Jet Juvenile

  • Post: 6:05 PM EDT
  • $2,000,000 purse
  • 1 1/16 miles over dirt for two-year-old for colts and geldings
  • 2017 champion: Good Magic
  • 2018 favorite: Game Winner
  • Kristen’s pick: Game Winner (he looks the part of a champion)

Saturday races:

Filly & Mare Sprint

  • Post: 12:00 PM EDT
  • $1,000,000 purse
  • 7 furlongs over dirt for three-year-old and up fillies and mares
  • 2017 champion: Bar of Gold
  • 2018 favorite: Marley’s Favorite
  • Kristen’s pick: Mia Mischief (strong recent performances on the East Coast)

Turf Sprint

  • Post: 12:38 PM EDT
  • $1,000,000 purse
  • 5 1/2 furlongs over turf for three-year-old and up
  • 2017 champion: Stormy Liberal
  • 2018 favorite: Disco Partner
  • Kristen’s pick: Conquest Tsunami (a survivor of the San Luis Rey Downs fire in late 2017 — have to cheer him on!)

Dirt Mile

  • Post: 1:16 PM EDT
  • $1,000,000 purse
  • 1 mile over dirt for three-year-olds and up
  • 2017 champion: Battle of Midway
  • 2018 favorite: Catalina Cruiser
  • Kristen’s pick: Bravazo (the only horse other than Justify to run all three Triple Crown races this year, and he was OH so close to catching Justify in the Preakness)

Maker’s Mark Filly & Mare Turf

  • Post: 2:04 PM EDT
  • $2,000,000 purse
  • 1 3/8 miles over turf for three-year-old and up fillies and mares
  • 2017 champion: Wuheida (GB)
  • 2018 favorite: Sistercharlie (IRE)
  • Kristen’s pick: Sistercharlie (I always root for horses I’ve seen win in person, and the last time I was in Lexington she won the Coolmore Jenny Wiley)

TwinSpires Sprint

  • Post: 2:46 PM EDT
  • $2,000,000 purse
  • 6 furlongs over dirt for three-year-old and up
  • 2017 champion: Roy H
  • 2018 favorite: Imperial Hint
  • Kristen’s pick: Roy H (I liked his style last year)

Mile

  • Post: 3:36 PM EDT
  • $2,000,000 purse
  • 1 mile over turf for three-year-old and up
  • 2017 champion: World Approval
  • 2018 favorite: Polydream (IRE)
  • Kristen’s pick: Mustashry (his name is MUSTASHRY. That’s all)

Longines Distaff

  • Post: 4:16 PM EDT
  • $2,000,000 purse
  • 1 1/8 miles over dirt for three-year-old and up fillies and mare
  • 2017 champion: Forever Unbridled
  • 2018 favorite: Monomoy Girl
  • Kristen’s pick: Wonder Gadot (I’ve liked her since her Queen’s Plate victory and respect her Travers attempt)

Longines Turf

  • Post: 4:56 PM EDT
  • $4,000,000 purse
  • 1 1/2 miles over turf for three-year-olds and up
  • 2017 champion: Talismanic
  • 2018 favorite: Enable
  • Kristen’s pick: Enable (always cheer for the bad-ass fillies, folks)

Classic

  • Post: 5:44 PM EDT
  • $6,000,000 purse
  • 1 1/4 miles over dirt for three-year-olds and up
  • 2017 champion: Gun Runner
  • 2018 favorite: Accelerate
  • Kristen’s pick: Thunder Snow (look, I realize his last showing at Churchill Downs was a hot mess and it’s been raining here in Kentucky for awhile, but he looked pretty great in Dubai)

Who are your picks? Let us know in the comments section!

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